Weekly News & Insights: Future of the Exhibit Industry

Graphic: stock.xchng

Graphic: stock.xchng

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz online about whether or not trade shows are still relevant, both inside and outside the industry. Ironically, some of the external sources have been more positive than the insiders. Check out the second half of this video from Open Forum with two business consultants on trade shows. Note what they say at the end … it’s often not a matter of the show, but what you do with it!

Last month, the exhibit industry gathered in Vegas for the annual EXHIBITOR Show, which hosted a record number of exhibitors (more than 275 in 65,000 square feet). Overall response to the show from exhibitors and attendees has been positive, with the feeling being that more attendees were there to buy vs. “just looking” as in recent years. And it’s no great surprise that many of the popular trends revolved around technology — TSNN has a list of five hottest.

With all the buzz about shows breaking records these days, here’s one to get excited about: last month’s Abilities Expo in Los Angeles had a 27-percent growth in attendance over last year, drawing more than 9,000 attendees. The Expo’s focus is to showcase products that assist people of all ages with a wide variety of disabilities.

When it comes to attracting attendees at a particular show, it makes sense that the number one reason people attend is because of a word-of-mouth invitation or discussion with a colleague. But some other popular methods may not be as effective as you might think, according to the new CEIR report, “Attracting Attendees.” Texting, social media, and telemarketing scored low on the list, while printed programs still play a significant role in attendees’ plans while at the event. Perhaps some of this data was skewed by the age of the audience surveyed, but still it’s worth paying attention to. Bottom line is there’s no one way to attract attendees, and that it takes a true understanding of who your audience is and what will appeal most to them.

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With experiences as both an exhibitor and a show organizer, Marlys Arnold has a unique perspective on trade show exhibiting. As an exhibit marketing strategist, she travels the country consulting and training on how to create experiential exhibits that produce significantly higher numbers of qualified leads. She’s led workshops for events ranging from local consumer expos to some of the largest trade shows in the U.S. She hosts the Trade Show Insights blog/podcast, and is the author of Build a Better Trade Show Image, the Exhibitor Education Manifesto, and the ExhibitorEd Success System. Exhibit Design That Works (the first book in the YES: Your Exhibit Success series) debuted in July 2017. She’s also the founder of the Exhibit Marketers Café, an online education community.

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